Why Poland?

I get this question a lot. After all, I’m not a historian, I’m not Catholic. I’m just a regular college professor, cognitive psychologist, who ended up living in Poland for almost a year.

There are so many answers to this question, and they emerge more or less strongly each day. But one theme is consistent; when I think of Why Poland? I think of this picture, of the White March in Krakow in 1981, after the attempted assassination of the Pope, and the events which led up to this point. Image

The Polish Pope first came to Poland in 1979, and the power of his visit, his words, on stimulating the Polish people to action cannot be underestimated. The extent of the crowds who came to see him, despite publicity blackouts, is incredible. Here is a great accounting of the visit:


To quote from his final 1979 speech:

“The human being is free…There is therefore no need to fear. . . . So . . . I beg you: Never lose your trust, do not be defeated, do not be discouraged.”

And so began the ten-year long journey that ended with the Poles being the first country in Eastern Europe to reject communism, with great sacrifice. The Poles have always sacrificed. They love freedom and liberty as few people ever will, ever could.

And so this to me is the answer to Why Poland?




Completely Unoriginal Thoughts About Big Star

Who am I writing this post for, and why? Well, I seem to be in period of intense musical openness and have been listening to a lot of my student’s recommendations. I have been trying not to make my own. But here is one I want to talk about; maybe some of my musically-inclined students will give a few moments of reading and listening time to this band.

As an aside before getting started, when I signed up for a DJ spot at our college radio station (WUSO!), I was asked in the application form to name three bands I would play. How can one decide this question! That is like asking a parent to name their favorite child or a chef to name their favorite dish to prepare! However, I wrote that I would play The Small Faces, Spoon, and Big Star.

OK, so why is Big Star interesting? Well, first, their story is totally compelling. They had the most tragic history of any band I can think of. And here is a great description of that history from an NPR radio program.

Second, and you read this description often, to me the music is timeless, speaking to issues of youth and young adulthood in simple, truthful ways with a hefty helping of pain and sadness but also a resounding joy. The one observation I would make that might be novel is this – so many of the songs on the first two LPs – #1 Record and Radio City could be radio hits today. The production is not dated to my ears despite being recorded in the early 70s, the vocal harmonies are intensely great, and they made some damn catchy hooks.

And, speaking of NPR, here is an account of one college-aged intern’s reading of the album upon first listen – will my students feel the same way?


OK, trying not to make this tl;dr, let me now post a few YouTube videos so you can see what I am talking about. Thanks for reading and listening, and if you actually make it this far, please let me know what you think.

First, a song from That 70s Show you may be familiar with, taken from the first record:

September Gurls, from the second record:

The snarling Don’t Lie To Me from the first LP:

And what could be sweeter than this simple love song, I’m In Love With A Girl, from the second record:


The garden space is made up out of whatever I can find around, stuff that came with the house. What a crazy hodgepodge mess the garden is!

But…we had some mesclun and rouge d’hiver on our salads the other night! Lettuces are going like gangbusters in the L-shaped enclosure.

Today I:

1) Enclosed the raspberry patch (left side of first photograph)

2) Weeded intensely in the strawberry patch. You can see all the pretty little white flowers, especially on the lower left of the second photograph)

3) Unmulched the garlic, best seen in the center left of the second photo

4) and used some of that old mulch in a newly prepared space in Heather’s smaller patch for spices and tomatoes, center right of second photo. Tomatoes have been growing inside for over a month and we are just about ready!

Talk title

Maternal brain volume changes


409 S. Stafford in the 1870s; Jesse Meeks

June, 1872 – Reverend Jesse M. Meek and Anna Meek (and Catherine Cook, Anna’s mother) buy the land from the Murphys for $625.

From a 1990s history of Zion Baptist Church: Jesse M. Meek, 1888-1895. Reverend Jesse M. Meek was called to serve Zion on May 21, 1888, and started his pastorate in June, 1888. He served an unbroken term of seven years until December, 1895.

He was said to be very efficient, and was greatly loved by the young, being especially qualified to understand and sympathize with them and obtain their confidence. During his pastorate his spiritual and intellectual scholarly attainments were so far reaching the Wilberforce University recognized him as a great man and conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity.

In 1894, the Ladies Sewing Circle was organized and Mrs. Anna S. Meek served as the first president.

Dr. Jesse M. Meek passed away on Monday, January 13, 1896 at Yellow Springs, Ohio. He was around 63 years old; quite a popular minister of Zion, having served in the communities of Chillicothe, Ripley, Springfield and Zanesville, Ohio.

His funeral was held at Zion Baptist Church. So great was the crowd that several hundred people had to wait outside, since the Church was already filled to overflowing with near 500 mourners. Due to the many, many people present for the funeral, it was said that the west side of the building began to sag and a crack was found in the west wall. After further investigation the building was condemned.

Jesse Meek timeline:

1833/1834, born in VA

1838/1839, moved to Cincinnati, private school

1860 Census:

Occupation: Shoemaker

Jesse M. Meek, 27, M, Mulatto – Birthplace: VA – Living in Clinton County in Wilmington, Ohio

Spouse: Ann E. Meek, 23, F, Mulatto, Child: Alfred Meek, 4, M


Occupation: Teacher

J.M. Meek, of Zanesville, on Dec. 25th gave address “Practical Education” at the Ohio Colored Teachers Association meeting, Cincinnati (in Jan 31, 1863 Christian Recorder)

(Meek also gave another address: Sin of Insubordination, at the same meeting and reported on the Zanesville schools.)


Occupation: Teacher

J.M. Meek gave address in December; “Practical Education” at the Ohio Colored Teachers Association meeting, Columbus (in Jan 1864 Christian Recorder).


November 3rd – “Mr. Meeks, Pastor of the Baptist Church, Xenia…”. Christian Recorder

1870 Census:

Occupation: Minister

Jesse M. Meek, 36, M, Black – Birthplace: VA – Living in Pickaway County in Circleville, Ohio

Spouse: Eliza Meek, 31 (34?), F, Black, Keeping House – Child: Clanco(?) Meek, 2, F, Black, At Home – Catherine Cook, 70, F, Black, At Home


Signer of petition for voting rights enforcement (one of 140 men) in Circleville, OH, pastored Second Baptist Church in Circleville.


J.M. Meek was secretary at Thirtieth Annual Meeting of the Anti-Slavery Baptist Association meeting in September in Springfield, OH.


June: Purchased lots 128/129 of 409 S. Stafford Street, Yellow Springs, OH. Catherine Cook purchased lots 126/127 (only lot 127 had taxable value). Sold by David Murphy (originally Ireland)


Cook lot 127 value held over

Improvement to lot 129 by Meek


Cook lot 127 value held over

Improvement to lot 129 by Meek


Pastored Second Baptist Church in Springfield, OH. Two church sources say one year (1877) while another source (History of Clark County/Springfield) says “about two years” with unspecified dates.


October: Sold lots 126, 127, 128 & 129 to Esper Peterson (originally Denmark).

1880 Census:

Occupation: Minister

J. M. Meek, 47, M, Mulatto – Birthplace: VA – Living in Brown County in Ripley, Ohio

Spouse: A. E. Meek, 43, F, Mulatto, Child: Clarence Meek, 12, M


Pastor of Zion Baptist Church, Xenia, OH.


Wilberforce trustees conveyed D.D. to Rev. J.M. Meek of Ohio – In July 3, 1890 Christian Recorder.


June. Elder Meeks assisted Rev. Balay in the sixth annual services of the Third Baptist Church, Xenia, OH. Christian Recorder.


October. In Xenia, OH, at party for B.F. Lee, Wilberforce. Christian Recorder.

October, 1878 – The Meeks sell the land to Esper and Ella Peterson for $600.